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Target data breach may affect 40 million customers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Target confirmed that it suffered a major data breach that may have affected as many as 40 million credit and debit card transactions at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The retailer said the information included customer name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and CVV (the three-digit security code).

The data theft marks the second largest credit card breach in the United States after retailer TJX Cos. announced in 2007 that at least 45.7 million credit and debit card users were exposed to credit card fraud.

In a statement, Target said it alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after it was made aware of the unauthorized access and identified and resolved the matter. The company did not say when it was made aware of the unauthorized access to payment card data or whether any fraudulently activity had occurred as a result. According to media reports, thieves were able to intercept data stored on the magnetic stripes of payment cards, which would allow them to transfer the data to the magnetic stripes of counterfeit payment cards and have them accepted by card readers.

‘‘Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence,” stated Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO of Target. “We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”

Target said it is working with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and to examine additional measures that could be taken to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

“We are putting our full resources behind these efforts,” according to a statement on Target.com.

Target posted information on its website advising customers to remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by regularly review their account statements and monitoring free credit reports.

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Hershey eyes growth in China with Golden Monkey

BY CSA STAFF

North America’s largest chocolate producer has acquired an 80% ownership interest in the manufacturer of China’s popular Golden Monkey confectionary and snacks brand.

As part of an ongoing commitment to elevate its presence in China, Hershey said its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hershey Netherlands B.V., signed an agreement to acquire 80% of Shanghai Golden Monkey Food Joint Stock Co., Ltd., or SGM, a privately held confectionery company based in Shanghai with annual sales of $225 million. Completion of the agreement is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2014 at which time SGM will operate as a stand-alone company reporting to Hershey’s international division.

“The agreement between Hershey and Shanghai Golden Monkey is a win for both companies,” said John P. Bilbrey, president and CEO of Hershey. “The strength of SGM’s confectionery portfolio and overall distribution capabilities, especially within the traditional trade, is an opportunity for us to leverage scale to make the iconic brands of Hershey and SGM even more powerful. Additionally, SGM’s focus on protein-based products and snacking is on-trend with Hershey’s consumer-centric marketplace insights.”

Hershey has increased its investment in China over the past several years and is said to be one of the fastest growing confection companies in China. The deal with SGM is intended to accelerate growth as Hershey builds on the success of SGM’s iconic brands, diverse product portfolio, in-country manufacturing and growing sales force to enhance service to Chinese consumers and provide increased opportunities for employees in the country. At the same time, SGM will benefit from the scale and scope of Hershey to enable the sustainable, long-term development of SGM’s trusted brands, according to Hershey.

“Shanghai Golden Monkey is the type of business we’ve been focused on for potential (merger and acquisition),” said Humberto P. Alfonso, the president of Hershey International who will oversee SGM. “It fits Hershey’s acquisition criteria. It is located in our primary international market, China. It is a pure play confectionery and snacks company and it has distribution into channels where Hershey products have yet to penetrate. Additionally, the company has a strong history of innovation and product quality as evidenced by the outstanding reputation of its core brand, Golden Monkey, which has been nationally recognized as one of China’s most iconic brands.”

The deal follows other recent moves by Hershey in China including the opening of an Asia Innovation Center in the Jinqiao Research Park in the Pudong District of Shanghai. SGM manufactures products in five cities and has more than 130 sales offices, approximately 1,700 sales representatives and about 2,000 distributors covering all regions and trade channels in China. The company’s product portfolio include Golden Monkey brand candy, chocolates, protein-based products and snack foods that are widely marketed across China. Notably, 75% of SGM’s sales are from non-chocolate products.

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Target’s big data breach could prove costly

BY CSA STAFF

Target early Thursday confirmed widespread media reports that it suffered a major data breach that affected as many as 40 million credit and debit card transactions during a period that began the day before Thanksgiving through December 15.

The big data breach revelation and subsequent negative publicity could not have come at a worse time as Target enters the busiest weekend of a shortened holiday season. In addition, the company remains focused on increasing the penetration rate and utilization of its proprietary REDcard credit and debit products which offer shoppers a 5% discount on most purchases.

Target said it alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after it was made aware of the unauthorized access and identified and resolved the matter, according to a statement by the company. Target did not say when it was made aware of the unauthorized access to payment card data or whether any fraudulently activity had occurred as a result. However, the potential for illegal card use would appear to be high since Target said it determined the information involved in this incident included customer name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and three-digit security code.

“Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO. “We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”

Target said it was working with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and to examine additional measures that could be taken to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

“We are putting our full resources behind these efforts,” according to a statement on Target.com.

In the meantime, information Target posted on its Web site recommended customers should remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by regularly review their account statements and monitoring free credit reports.

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